Marine salvage experts will decide how to remove oil, diesel from ghost ship

Experts may use helicopter to airlift sealed barrels from the MV Alta depending weather conditions

Marine salvage experts will assess how best to remove a number of sealed barriers containing fuel and oil from the ghost ship, MV Alta which remains stranded on rocks near Ballycotton in East Cork.  Photograph: David Creedon /Anzenberger

Marine salvage experts will assess how best to remove a number of sealed barriers containing fuel and oil from the ghost ship, MV Alta which remains stranded on rocks near Ballycotton in East Cork. Photograph: David Creedon /Anzenberger

 

Marine salvage experts will assess how best to remove a number of sealed barriers containing fuel and oil from the ghost ship, MV Alta, which remains stranded on rocks near Ballycotton in East Cork.

According to the county’s engineer, Kevin Morey, Cork County Council is liaising with a marine surveyor as well as the Irish Coast Guard and the Receiver of Wrecks as to how best to proceed to remove the barrels which contain diesel and machine oil from the stranded freighter.

Mr Morey said a helicopter may be used to airlift them from the from the 77 metre long vessel over the coming days with careful consideration being given to both sea and weather conditions.

A marine contractor had been unable to fully assess the fuel levels in the ship’s tanks on Tuesday because of water in some compartments but the contractor was able to access the area after water was pumped from the vessel on Wednesday morning.

“Cork County Council’s marine contractor boarded the vessel again this morning (Wednesday) and was able to carry out a full assessment of the materials aboard. All compartments were accessed and there is very little diesel fuel on board,” said the council in a statement.

The council again confirmed that there is no visible pollution within the Ballycotton Bay Special Protection Area or nearby proposed Natural Heritage Areas before urging members of the public to stay away from the wreck as it is in an unstable condition in a dangerous area.

Revenue Commissioners

Meanwhile the Revenue Commissioners has confirmed that one of their officials, who has been appointed Receiver of Wreck for the MV Alta, is continuing to try and establish ownership of the vessel after being contacted by a person purporting to be a representative of the owner.

However the Revenue Commissioners declined to comment further on what progress has been made in terms of securing the necessary documentation to prove ownership, saying that “the Receiver of Wreck is pursuing this matter, therefore no further information is available.”

However The Irish Times has established that the MV Alta appears to have had a chequered history in terms of ownership with various maritime websites suggesting that the 44-year-old freighter may have changed ownership after she was abandoned by her crew and drifting in the Atlantic.

According to Insurance Marine News, the US Coast Guard rescued the crew of ten from Panama, Honduras and Greece when the ship was some 1,300 miles south east of Bermuda in October 2018 after damage to the ship’s main engine and Tropical Storm Leslie threatening.

Registered

The MV Alta at that stage was registered in Tanzania and was owned and managed by Alta Shipping of Miami, Florida and salvage attempts by the owners were continuing but the ship appears to have begun drifting eastwards across the Atlantic, according to Insurance Marine News.

While on its way to the Bahamas to assist with hurricane relief efforts, the Royal Navy ice patrol ship, HMS Protector came across the abandoned MV Alta off Africa on August 30th 2019 and attempted to make contact with the ship but received no response.

But according to the Marine Traffic website, the MV Alta was by then registered in Norway where having been registered there on May 26th 2019, having been first registered in Panama on April 1st 2019 with both registrations appearing to take place when the ship was adrift on the high seas.